Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Jonathan Petropoulos

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This study examines Ferdinand Porsche’s activities during the Third Reich. Ferdinand Porsche (1875-1951) was an engineer who became best known as the founder of Porsche AG, one of the most profitable car manufacturers in the world. Between 1933 and 1945, Porsche collaborated closely with the National Socialist regime in Germany. Prior to the start of the Second World War in September 1939, Porsche designed the Volkswagen Beetle on behalf of Adolf Hitler, and oversaw the factory dedicated to manufacturing the Volkswagen. During the Second World War, Porsche transformed the Volkswagen factory into an important site for armament production, and designed various military vehicles; with both undertakings, his company exploited involuntary workers. After the Second World War, Porsche was interrogated by American and British occupying forces and imprisoned by the French government. After his release from France in August 1947, he went on to design the first sports car displaying the Porsche marque and help build an automotive empire. This study emphasizes Ferdinand Porsche’s relationships to leaders of the National Socialist regime, namely Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, and Hermann Göring. Porsche utilized such relationships to further his personal interests. This study also considers the limited response of Porsche AG to this challenging history.


  • Best Senior Thesis in History

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.